SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — With 18% of the state’s population now 65 and older, Michigan holds the 14th largest aging demographic in the country and that demographic has an opinion about aging in place. The vast majority want to stay home for as long as possible. That means they need access to the right resources, everything.
Shortages exacerbated by the pandemic are making what would otherwise be a simple task far more challenging.
“Most individuals want to stay home and have end-of-life care at home as well,” said Chris Zayid, from Affinity Senior Care.
A 2021 AARP survey shows more than 3/4 of adults aged 50 and up want to age in place but as the pandemic continues its hold- changes in labor and supply are putting a strain on that ability.
WXYZ’s Ameera David asked, “How much more challenging is it now?”
“Covid caused a lot of supply issues for us,” said Bob Binson from Binson’s Medical Equipment.
Binson Medical Equipment and Supplies says the last two years have been tough on consumers of ventilation-related products.
With respiratory issues at an all-time high right now, C-Paps and nebulizers are two of the medical devices that are hardest to keep stocked.
Nebulizer therapy is frequently prescribed to seniors to manage COPD & asthma –C-Paps – used to treat chronic sleep apnea.
“What are wait times like?” asked David.
“At the worst point we had people waiting up to three months,” said Binson.
Wait times on those are improving – though, that’s not the case for another must-have device.
“People are waiting a long time to get these particular power chairs,” said Binson pointing to wheelchairs.
Repairing them is its own challenge, with many parts on backorder due to the global supply chain crisis.
“This is about independence,” said David.
“Independence and being able to do things themselves, that could be the difference between them staying home or going into a nursing home,” said Binson.
Perhaps nothing is impacting the home healthcare industry more than the caregiver shortage.
“They would have to call back and say I’m sorry we can’t find anybody in your area,” said Elaine Krueger.
No one knows that struggle better than Elaine and Larry Krueger.
“We’ve probably been through 8 to 10 different agencies,” said Elaine.
They spent nearly three years looking for a steady caregiver for Larry, who has a progressive muscle disorder, and considered shifting him to an assisted living facility, until finally finding luck with Affinity Senior Home Care.
“The care demand is increasing,” said Zayad.
It’s been complicated by high turnover rates among healthcare providers, spurred by the pandemic’s great resignation. for affinity, that means hiring is in overdrive with better wages and benefits
“Finding good quality care professionals is what the focus is,” said Zayad.
All so it allows seniors to maintain their independence for as long as possible and age comfortably in place.
“It does give me more confidence, makes me feel more relaxed,” said Larry Krueger.
“This is so familiar for him,” said Elaine.
“Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about supply shortages, but we can do our best to tackle critical care giving services. affinity senior care along with several other home care companies are hiring right now.